Hospitality and Tourism

Kansas City has plenty to offer the tourist and the hometown resident alike.

According to people who keep track of such numbers, the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area covers nearly 8,000 square miles—nearly equivalent to 10 percent of that vast expanse we know as Kansas, the state. That’s a lot of city to explore.

And within this region, there are more than 27,000 hotel rooms. Average room rate, specials and other discounts not included? $107. That’s a considerable savings over the $771 you’d spend for a night in Big Sur, but it’s hard for us to see an extra $664 worth of value in a view of surf breaking over big rocks.

So how do you spend the difference? Well, Kansas City offers some features that appeal to the masses, making it a great spot for vacationers and staycationers alike. Here are just a few:

We know, it’s a Kansas City cliché, but how many clichés do you know that taste this good? When you’re here, you simply must experience the barbecue. And not just once. Every master has his own smoking approach, flavoring wood, seasoning mix and preferred cooking times. If you’re going to do the ’cue here, plan on getting around and sampling the different varieties that make restaurants here among the best in the world at this uniquely American brand of cooking.

Here’s another cliché that isn’t cliché in these parts: Kansas City-style jazz. We like to think jazz was born here—and we’ll get arguments from the folks in New Orleans about that—but the musical style’s influence is profound in these parts. One physical tribute to that is the American Jazz Museum, in the 18th and Vine district, and there are plenty of nightspots that will help you get your jazz fix.

The folks in nearby Lawrence like to tout historical roots that run back to the invention of basketball (the game’s founder, James Naismith, later coached at KU, after all), but even if you don’t bleed crimson and blue, there’s basketball in your blood if you’re from these parts. That’s one reason why the College Basketball Hall of Fame was built in Downtown Kansas City. And it’s College Basketball Experience is a one-of-kind attraction, right down to the interactive exhibits that get you sweating.

This being the sports town it is, Kansas City boasts major-league baseball and football in its recently upgraded Truman Sports Complex, featuring the Royals at Kauffman Stadium and the Chiefs at Arrowhead, as well as Division I collegiate sports with Kansas State and Kansas from the Big 12 and Missouri from the SEC.

And whether you have kids in tow or not, don’t miss a chance to check out the zoo while you’re here. It’s really good, and getting better. That’s one reason the Kansas City Zoo hired Randy Wisthoff away from the renowned Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha a decade ago. His influence has been profound, and can be seen across the 200-acre zoo campus. The latest addition: A $15 million penguin exhibit opening this fall.